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How Your DD214 Helps Secure a VA Home Loan

DD-214 and the VA Loan
DD-214 and the VA Loan

Veterans looking for a VA home loan will often need to provide lenders with a copy of their DD Form 214 as proof of service.

Known as the Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, the DD214 usually contains everything the VA needs in order to determine whether you’re eligible for the home loan benefit.

Let’s take a closer look at what VA buyers need to know about the DD214.

Is a DD214 the same as a Certificate of Eligibility?

No, your DD Form 214 and Certificate of Eligibility (COE) are separate documents. A DD214 identifies a Veteran’s condition of discharge, while a COE formally documents your eligibility for a VA home loan. Lenders typically use the DD214 to obtain your COE.

How to Get Your DD214

Active duty military members receive a DD214 upon separating from the military. There are multiple copies of the DD-214, and some contain more information than others.

Would-be homebuyers will typically provide the Member 4 Copy of their DD214 during the preapproval process. Veterans who separated from the military from January 1, 1950, to September 30, 1979, will have just the original DD214. Borrowers who separated from active duty prior to 1950 will have different documentation, which will need to show the Veteran’s length and character of service.

Veterans who’ve lost or otherwise can’t provide proof of their military service can try obtaining new documents through the milConnect online portal. You can also send the SF-180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records) to the appropriate records center noted on the form.

Service members currently on active duty will not have a DD214 and can instead provide lenders with a statement of service.

National Guard and Reserve Eligibility

National Guard and Reserve Veterans have no single discharge form like the DD214.

These Veterans usually need to provide documentation about their service history and evidence of honorable service. Guard Veterans can typically use the NGB Form 22 along with their latest retirement points statement. Discharge forms for Reserve Veterans vary by branch, but they'll also typically want to include a points statement.

Depending on the nature of their service, it is still possible for some National Guard and Reserve Veterans to receive a DD214.

Talk with a Veterans United VA Loan Expert at 855-259-6455 to learn more about VA loan eligibility for Guard and Reserve Veterans.

Surviving Spouse Eligibility

Some surviving spouses are eligible for the VA home loan benefit. However, locating a copy of the deceased Veteran’s DD214 can be a challenge. If you can’t locate the DD214, it’s best to apply for a replacement through the VA.

Requesting a DD214 copy for surviving spouses can be done through milConnect. If you don’t have the necessary information to do so, other request options include mailing an SF-180 to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), writing a letter to the NPRC, visiting the NPRC, contacting your state/country Veterans agency or working with your lender.

Lenders may also help spouses apply for their own Certificate of Eligibility, which requires a completed VA Form 26-1817. Spouses who are eligible as both a surviving spouse and a Veteran need to apply for a COE as both a Veteran and a surviving spouse.

Next of kin of a deceased Veteran may also request a DD214. This includes the Veteran’s parents, children or siblings as well.

How long does it take to get your DD214?

The National Archives recently announced its pandemic-era backlog was cleared, speeding up the time it takes to receive a DD214. You can now expect a response within a week for most DD214 requests, while other types of requests can take up to 20 days.

Information Included on a DD214

Typically, a DD214 contains the following information:

  • Date and place of entry into active duty
  • Home address (at service entry)
  • Date/place of release from active duty
  • Home address after separation
  • Last duty assignment and rank
  • Military job specialty (MOS, AFSC, etc.)
  • Military education
  • Awards, decorations, medals, citations and campaign awards received while on duty
  • Amount of total creditable service
  • Foreign service credit
  • Separation information: date and type of separation, character of service, authority and reason for separation
  • Separation and re-enlistment eligibility codes

Ultimately, the information included on this form is needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment and membership in Veteran organizations.

Can I get a VA loan without a DD214?

You cannot be approved for a VA home loan without showing proof of service. Typically, a DD214 is the most efficient way for separated or retired service members to verify served time. The only VA loan that doesn’t require a DD214 is the VA Streamline refinance since you must already have a VA loan to be eligible.

Working with a lender who understands VA home loans and is familiar with VA guidelines is important. A Veterans United loan officer can help you with the VA loan process at 855-259-6455.

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